A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that complex characters and a spine-tingling plot will have many readers racing through the novel to find out what happens next. Still, some parents won't feel comfortable when Mary tells her brother, "I will scratch. I will cut. I will stab. I will kill to find out where Mother is and save her."
What's the story?
In an age of superstition, the hysterical ravings of young women whip a town into a frenzy that will not end until twenty-four people have lost their lives. By turns exciting and horrifying, Kathryn Lasky's novel tells the story of Mary and Caleb Chase's race to save their mother, who must escape from Salem or be hanged as a witch.
Is it any good?
BEYOND THE BURNING TIME is a fascinating look at the Salem witch trials. Lasky excerpts much of her material from sermons, trial testimonies, and contemporary histories, cleverly blending fact and fiction. Her fictional characters are skillfully conceived and believable. Many readers will identify with Mary Chase, someone apart from the hysteria who struggles to understand the motivations of the young women and the townspeople supporting them.
The novel is packed with scenes of searing emotional intensity. When Mary views a hanging for the first time or when Virginia Chase tells her children to abandon her and save themselves, the scenes draw the reader in as a witness to these painful events. Ultimately, Mary becomes immersed in this culture of violence and tells her brother, "I will scratch. I will cut. I will stab. I will kill to find out where Mother is and save her." Though her response is certainly believable, it may disturb younger readers. This point aside, Lasky's novel is a riveting read that even many reluctant readers will find hard to put down.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Salem witch trials. Do you think the women who were believed to be witches really had special powers that they used for evil means?
How does this book compare to other stories your read or seen in movies about the Salem witch trials?
Was the public justified in wanting to eliminate these women?
For kids who love history
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